Art of Imperfection

Wabi Sabi is a way of seeing the world that is at the heart of Japanese culture.
 It finds beauty and harmony in what is simple,
imperfect, natural, modest, and mysterious.
– Mark Reibstein, Wabi Sabi

Agra, India

Wabi-sabi suggests that beauty is a dynamic event that occurs between you and something else. Beauty can spontaneously occur at any moment given the
proper circumstances, context, or point of view. Beauty is thus an altered state of consciousness, an extraordinary moment of poetry and grace.
– Leonard Koren, Wabi-Sabi: For Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers


It is only with age that you acquire the gift to evaluate decay, the epiphany of Wordsworth, the wisdom of wabi-sabi: nothing is perfect, nothing is complete, nothing lasts.
– Paul Theroux

Havana, Cuba

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.
– Gerard Manley Hopkins
quoted in the Daily Good


The beauty of wabi-sabi is rooted in modesty that is elegantly perceived.
The aesthetic pleasures of wabi-sabi depend on
attitude and practice as much, or more,
than on the
materiality itself.
– Leonard Koren, op.cit.

Kathmandu, Nepal

The underlying principles of Wabi Sabi are diametrically opposed
to those of their Western counterparts, 

whose values are rooted in a worldview that
values permanence, grandeur, symmetry, and perfection.

– Andrew Juniper

Preah Khan, Angkor, Cambodia

For a lovely bowl
Let us arrange these flowers
For there is no rice
– Matsuo Bashō,  Japanese Haiku

Mandalay, Myanmar/Burma

If you look closely at a tree you’ll notice it’s knots and
dead branches, 
just like our bodies.
What we learn is that beauty and
imperfection go together wonderfully.
– Matthew Fox

Havana, Cuba
Srinagar, Kashmir
Mandalay, Burma/Myanmar
Elberton, Georgia, Deep South, USA
Havana, Cuba

A diamond with a flaw is worth more
then a pebble without imperfections.
– Chinese proverb

By Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry has been one of the most iconic voices in contemporary photography for more than thirty years, with scores of magazine and book covers, over a dozen books, and countless exhibitions around the world to his name.

To read more about Steve go to

39 replies on “Art of Imperfection”

I totally agree. I once took a photo of a white tulip with one red petal, surrounded by completely white tulips. That stubborn punker tulip made my day.

Totally agree. Beautiful blog post. I once took a photo of a white tulip with one red petal, surrounded by completely white tulips. That one stubborn punker tulip made my day.

Thank you once again Stevebhai for these wonderful images and the quotes.
”Wabi-sabi reminds us that we are all transient beings on this planet—that our bodies, as well as the material world around us, are in the process of returning to dust. Nature’s cycles of growth, decay, and erosion are embodied in frayed edges, rust, liver spots. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace both the glory and the melancholy found in these marks of passing time.”

Thank you so much. Love all your posts. This one particularly resonates with me, love the philosophy and images,

We just visited your show in Ortigia, Sicily. It is stunning. We didn’t want to leave. The experience of each piece, the experience of the whole, is so enlivening, uplifting, holy. Thank you for your talent, your courage, your eyes and your heart.

Lovely images and theme. I learned something pertinent to my view of the world, my own creativity and appreciation of the art that surrounds us. I want to learn more about Wabi Sabi.

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